COVID-19 Waste Shipment (EU)

On 16 March 2020, the Commission adopted Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services.

On this basis, on 23 March 2020, the Commission adopted a Communication on the implementation of the Green Lanes under the Guidelines with specific recommendations designed to preserve the EU-wide operation of supply chains and ensure the functioning of the Single Market for goods, wherever internal border controls exist or have been introduced.

I blog posted about this at the time.

The European Commission issued (30th March) a Communication explicitly clarifying that the principles relating to transport of goods apply mutatis mutandis to shipments of waste.

This document is here.

Environmental Taxes (UK)

The Finance Bill 2020 increases existing environmental taxes, amends the carbon emissions tax that is not commenced, and provides for a new packaging tax.

Vehicle Excise and Registration Tax

The government announced at Budget 2017 it would introduce a new regime for calculating a car’s CO2 emissions, known as the Worldwide Harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). The WLTP applied from 1st September 2017. All EC certificates of conformity or UK approval certificates for new cars show CO2 emissions figures based upon the WLTP test procedure, in addition to those based upon the existing methodology (NEDC).

Schedule 1 to Vehicle Excise and Registration Act (VERA) 1994 provides the legislation for annual rates of duty. The Finance Bill 2020 amends VERA to facilitate implementation of the WLTP regime.

VERA is also amended to exempt all registered zero-emission light passenger vehicles registered from 1 April 2017 from the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) supplement for light passenger vehicles with a list price exceeding £40,000, when their licence is renewed on or after 1 April 2020.

Air Passenger Duty (APD)

The rates for APD are set out in section 30 of the Finance Act 1994. The rates of APD for flights to Band A destinations are unchanged. Band B destination APD is increased – in force 1st April 2021.

Climate Change Levy (CCL)

The main rates of Climate Change Levy (CCL) are amended with effect from 1 April 2020. The reduced rate percentages that apply to the main rates of CCL payable by participants in the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme, are also amended with effect from 1 April 2020.

The main rates of Climate Change Levy (CCL) are amended with effect from 1 April 2021. The reduced rate percentages that apply to the Climate Change Levy (CCL) main rates payable by participants in the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme, are also amended with effect from 1 April 2021.

[ Budget 2016 announced that, from 1 April 2019, rates would become subject to ‘rebalancing’ to reflect changes in the fuel mix used in electricity generation. The increase in rates, from 1 April 2019, also sought to recover the tax revenues lost by closing the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme.

Budget 2016 announced that, alongside the rates increase from 1 April 2019, the reduced rates of CCL for qualifying businesses in the CCA scheme would be amended so that participants did not pay more in CCL than they would have if the rates were increased in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) as in previous years.]

[ Budget 2017 announced that in order to ensure a better consistency between portable fuels in the off-gas grid market, the CCL rate for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) would be frozen at the 2019-20 level in the years 2020-21 and 2021-22. For this reason, the reduced rate for LPG will remain set at 23 percent for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22.]

[ Budget 2018 reaffirmed the government’s commitment to continue with the rebalancing and the CCL rates with effect from 1 April 2020 reflect this.

Budget 2018 announced the amended reduced rates for 2020-21 would limit the impact on CCA scheme participants to an RPI increase similar to that in the year 2019-20.

Budget 2018 announced the amended reduced rates for 2021 to 2022 would limit the impact on CCA scheme participants to an RPI increase.]

Landfill Tax

Sections 42(1)(a) and 42(2) of the Finance Act 1996 to increase both rates of Landfill tax (the standard and the reduced rate) in line with inflation (rounded to the nearest 5 pence). The increased rates apply to any disposal of relevant materials made (or treated as made) at a landfill site in England or Northern Ireland on or after 1 April 2020. The increased standard rate also applies from the same date to any disposal of relevant materials made (or treated as made) at an unauthorized waste site in England or Northern Ireland. The standard rate will increase to £94.15 per tonne and the lower rate to £3.00 per tonne.

Carbon Emissions Tax

Part 3 of the Finance Act 2019 (which established the Carbon Emissions Tax – not commenced) is amended. If the Government decides to use the tax as its carbon pricing policy after the Transition Period, the tax would be commenced on 1 January 2021.

The UK remains in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) until 31 December 2020. As set out in the UK’s Approach to Negotiations, the UK would be open to considering a link between any future UK Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the EU ETS, if it suited both sides’ interests.

In the event that there is no link agreed between a UK ETS and the EU ETS the UK would introduce an alternative carbon pricing policy.

The Government is therefore preparing both a standalone emissions trading system and a Carbon Emissions Tax.

Budget 2020 announced that legislation would be included in Finance Bill 2020 to: provide a charging power to establish a UK ETS linked to the EU ETS or a standalone UK ETS; and update the existing legislation relating to Carbon Emissions Tax.

The Finance Bill 2020 amends Finance Act 2019 to ensure that the tax would be ready to be operational from at the end of the Transition Period, if needed.

UK permit holders operating stationary installations would be set a tax emission allowance and be taxed on all emissions that exceeded this allowance on a carbon equivalent basis. The first emissions reports would cover 1 January to 31 December 2021 and the tax would be collected by HMRC annually. It is intended that the bills relating to the first reports would be issued in summer 2022. The tax would rely on data supplied by taxable installations under existing (and continuing) emissions reporting arrangements.

The EU ETS requires participants to obtain permits to emit and then to submit a report annually providing details of their activities across the previous calendar year, from which their emissions across the period are calculated. All greenhouse gas emissions are calculated on a carbon equivalent basis. The data on emissions will continue to be collected following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Much of the existing legislation supporting the EU ETS would, under a Carbon Emissions Tax, continue to provide the legal basis for the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions, and the permitting of installations.

The Finance Bill 2020 also allows HM Treasury to make regulations which provide for the allocation of emissions allowances in return for payment under any future UK Emissions Trading System (UK ETS).

These include the powers for HM Treasury to establish a UK Emissions Trading System (ETS). This means that emissions allowances can be auctioned in any future UK ETS, as defined in regulations.

The Finance Bill 2020 also allows for the potential implementation of additional market stability mechanisms in a standalone UK ETS. As set out in the consultation, this could include a Cost Containment Mechanism (CCM) to respond to any significant short- term price spikes and an Auction Reserve Price (ARP). If implemented, the ARP would set a minimum price for which allowances can be sold at auction to provide a minimum carbon price signal.

[A response to last summer’s consultation on the Future of UK Carbon Pricing will be published over the coming months.]

Packaging Tax

The Finance Bill 2020 enables HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to prepare for the introduction of a tax on plastic packaging before it is formally provided for in law.

[At Budget 2018, the Government announced the introduction of a new tax on plastic packaging which has less than 30% recycled plastic.]

Environment Bill (England & UK Brexit)

The Environment Bill returns to the Commons for Second Reading today. It is a slightly different Bill to 2019. Please reprise the posts I wrote in 2019, I summarise the changes (from those posts) below – I had got as far as Water – please find those posts in the Environment Bill category on this blog.

Targets (unchanged from 2019 Bill) – reprising because I didn’t set these out before – England only (targets are within the competencies of devolved legislatures)

– allow government to set long-term targets (of at least 15 years duration) in relation to the natural environment and people’s enjoyment of the natural environment via statutory instrument;

– require government to meet long-term targets, and to prepare remedial plans where long-term targets are not met;

– require government to set, by October 2022, at least one long-term target in each of the priority areas of air quality, water, biodiversity, and resource efficiency and waste reduction;

– require government to set and meet an air quality target for fine particulate matter in ambient air (PM2.5);

– require government to periodically review all environmental targets to assess whether meeting them would significantly improve the natural environment in England.

Note Clause 20 – Clause 20: Reports on international environmental protection legislation (this is unchanged from 2019 Bill, but I did not spell it out before) – this clause places an obligation on the Secretary of State to produce a report on significant developments in international environmental protection legislation, every two years, and lay it before Parliament. England only (competencies are within the competencies of devolved legislatures).

The scope and content of the report will be determined by the Secretary of State – see subsection (5). However, in a given reporting period it could cover: significant developments in the legislation of other countries that are mainly concerned with seeking to protect the natural environment from the effects of human activity or protecting people from the effects of human activity on the environment; legislation on the maintenance, restoration or enhancement of the natural environment; or legislative provisions around monitoring, assessing, considering and reporting and monitoring on these matters. The report will not extend to reviewing or considering the planning systems of other countries.

OEP (Office for Environmental Protection) – unchanged from 2019 Bill – see Blog posts on this – England only (establishing an OEP is within the competencies of devolved legislatures – Scotland indicated it would go this direction see its Environmental Strategy – see my post of yesterday).

Changes to UK REACH – unchanged from 2019 Bill

Waste, Air and Water appear unchanged from the 2019 Bill, and I have Blog posted before about these topics. Nonetheless, I will Blog again re Waste, because this is highly complex and a lot of new processes are announced. Please read the Explanatory Notes – here.

New Blog posts will be made about the rest of the Bill, please look out for those.

EU Single-Use Plastics Directive (UK alignment)

From 1st January 2021, the UK is outside the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement transition period.

Northern Ireland – EU Law on goods (includes Environment) continues to apply.

Scotland – a ban on cotton buds is already in place

England – plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds ban will come into force in April 2020

Wales – the Welsh government will consult

The EU Single-Use Plastics Directive was published in 2019, Member States have two years to implement, some aspects a bit longer – here.

The 2019 Directive mandates a reduction in the consumption of the single-use plastic products listed in Part A of the Annex, in line with the overall objectives of the EU’s waste policy, in particular waste prevention, leading to a substantial reversal of increasing consumption trends. The measures (put in place in member states) should achieve a measurable quantitative reduction in the consumption of the single-use plastic products listed in Part A of the Annex on the territory of the Member State by 2026 compared to 2022.

The 2019 Directive also mandates a ban on the placing on the market of the single-use plastic products listed in Part B of the Annex and of products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

The 2019 Directive also obliges Member States to ensure that single-use plastic products listed in Part C of the Annex that have caps and lids made of plastic may be placed on the market only if the caps and lids remain attached to the containers during the products’ intended use stage.

The 2019 Directive sets out further measures.

EU Law in UK 2021 (2) (UK Brexit)

UPDATE (24th Jan) : correction – the main combined cycle waste law was enacted in 2018, but the Single-Use Plastics Directive was enacted in 2019. The EU 2018 updates to the waste law (combined cycle) will be implemented. The Single-Use Plastics Directive will not be implemented.

EU Law enacted in 2019 with two year (or more) implementation deadlines in 2021 would not be implemented.

Exit day is 31st January (next Friday)

EU law continues to be enacted. I posted before about long tail implementation deadlines. I said in that post that the combined cycle waste law and other waste law updates enacted in 2019 with two year or minus more implementation deadlines would be implemented in the UK.

However, on 16th January, the BEIS Secretary answered as follows re the 2019 EU Copyright Directive –

The deadline for implementing the EU Copyright Directive is 7 June 2021. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 January 2020 and the Implementation Period will end on 31 December 2020. The Government has committed not to extend the Implementation Period. Therefore, the United Kingdom will not be required to implement the Directive, and the Government has no plans to do so. Any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.

Please continue to follow this Blog for further updates.

EU Law in UK 2021 (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st January (end of this month)

Implementation period completion day is 31st December (this is the end of the transition period)

The Chancellor speaking to the Financial Times, confirms there will be no dynamic alignment with EU Law after 2020.

I am not yet clear which laws will diverge, but please note the Brexit laws allow divergence, for example the Brexit Agriculture Bill provides for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to create their own marketing standards (Scotland will need to enact its own Brexit Agriculture Bill).

The EU Exit regulations (statutory instruments) we (Cardinal Environment) are consolidating into domestic law only deal with the pre-Brexit period to end Dec 2020.

It is the FT front page today (Saturday 18th January) and the lead on BBC online.

EU Law per se will not apply anyway. Note, there may be some long tail implementation left over from pre-Brexit that will be implemented.

We (Cardinal Environment) are already consolidating the EU Exit regulations into domestic law, and creating the Retained EU Law (EU Regulations, not Directives, that are adopted). Progress in this project can be seen by clicking the Brexit Consolidated Law List on the top right hand side of EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists homepages (both ENV and OHS).

We are working to the deadline of 31st December 2020 for completion of this project.

In addition, EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will see the home page choice of ENV or OHS have additional Post-Brexit choices, and the existing links relabelled Pre-Brexit.

The Post-Brexit links will direct to shadow Registers & Checklists that will run from the end of Q1 to hit the end Dec 2020 deadline, for switch over to Post-Brexit.

Post-Brexit shadow Registers & Checklists running in 2020 will have Brexit Consolidated Law loaded (accessibility will stay from the main Brexit Consolidated Law list), and will display a changed Register layout.

Post-Brexit EHS Legislation Registers layout – EU Law will be moved from the top to below Guidance. We will still supply up to date EU Law to UK customers, but this is where it will be found. Retained EU Law will be displayed at the top of the Register.

Stormont Re-Start (Northern Ireland)

Following acceptance by political parties in Northern Ireland of The New Decade, New Approach Deal, Stormont will re-start after three years.

This means restoration to full operation of all the institutions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, including the Executive, the Assembly, the North South Ministerial Council, the British-Irish Council and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

The following commitments in The New Decade, New Approach Deal are relevant for our purposes –

(1) The Executive will create an Executive Sub-Committee on Brexit.

The sub-committee will be chaired by the First Minister and deputy First Minister (or their nominated Ministerial representatives). The sub-committee will have at least one representative from each party on the Executive. As a matter of urgency the sub-committee will consider Brexit-related issues and will initiate, as soon as is practicable, an assessment of the impact of Brexit on the institutions and North/South and East/West relationships. The work of the sub-committee will be scrutinised by an Assembly Committee.

(2) The Executive will establish a central Translation Hub in the Department of Finance within three months of an agreement, in order to provide language translation services for the 9 Executive Departments, Arm’s Length Bodies, Local Government and Public Bodies.

The Assembly’s Standing Orders will also be amended to allow any person to conduct their business before the Assembly or an Assembly Committee through Irish or Ulster Scots. A simultaneous translation system will be made available in the Assembly to ensure that a person without Irish or Ulster Scots is not placed at a disadvantage.

(3) Representatives from the Northern Ireland Executive will be invited to be part of the UK delegation in any meetings of the UK-EU Specialised Committees or the Joint Committee discussing Northern Ireland specific matters which are also being attended by the Irish Government as part of the European Union’s delegation.

A powerful Joint Committee is established under the (international treaty) EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement to oversee that Agreement (for orderly UK exit from the EU). This Joint Committee will have Specialised Committees.

(4) The UK government will legislate to guarantee unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market, and ensure that this legislation is in force for 1 January 2021. The UK government will engage in detail with a restored Executive on measures to protect and strengthen the UK internal market.

The Deal, alongside its two annexes, represents a possible outline of a Programme for Government. The parties agree to publish, within two weeks of the restoration of the institutions, the fuller details of an agreed Programme for Government. The parties recognise that the final Programme for Government will need to be agreed by the parties who form the Executive.

Within its first month of operation, the Executive will publish a legislative programme and indicative timescales which will complement the Programme for Government.

The following are relevant Deal commitments –

(1) The Executive will make its first priority to ensure the best possible Brexit outcome for citizens and the economy, reflecting the priorities set out in the letter of August 2016 from the First Minister and deputy First Minister to the Prime Minister.

(2) The Executive will invest urgently in wastewater infrastructure (the Living With Water Programme) which is at or nearing capacity in many places across Northern Ireland, including in Belfast.

(3) The Executive will tackle climate change with a new Energy Strategy to address the immediate and longer term impacts of climate change, and set targets and actions for transition to a zero carbon society.

The parties agree that, within 3 months, the new Executive will publish a comprehensive timetable for the development and delivery of this and other strategies necessary to achieve the outcomes in the Programme for Government.

(4) The Executive will introduce legislation and targets for reducing carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Accord.

Specifically, –

* the Executive will bring forward a Climate Change Act

* the Executive will establish an independent Environmental Protection Agency

* the Executive will create a plan to eliminate plastic pollution

* the RHI (Renewable Heat Initiative) will be closed down and replaced by a scheme that cuts carbon emissions.

Please also note the statements made by the Irish Government which also summarises the Brexit supports available to border regions.

The Deal document is here.